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Wilbur Smith Books - Eagle in the Sky

Updated on July 13, 2015

My Favourite Wilbur Smith Novel and Favourite Book of All Time

The first time I read a Wilbur Smith Book was over 30 years ago when I had become a member of a book club.

This was at a time when television still got switched off overnight from midnight, signalled of course by the National Anthem. That could only be the BBC of course, but as there were just around 3 to 5 channels to choose from in those early days it wouldn't take much to fathom out which one closed the days proceedings in this way. All the channels had a close down period overnight at that time however, which is a world apart from what is normal practice today. The point being of course that having a good book to read back then was pretty much a pre-requisite, hence the book club and my favourite author of all time - Wilbur Smith.

There were others of course, Robert Ludlum, who penned the books that were to form the basis of the Bourne Trilogy, and of course John le Carré who wrote the famous spy and espionage thriller - Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. But there was no one in my opinion who could match Wilbur Smith, you always knew that when you picked up a Wilbur Smith novel that you were in for a delightful journey of action, adventure and excitement with more twists and turns than a Monaco grand prix.

He always seemed to have the ability to insert a complete surprise into his story telling. So even if you had read a few Wilbur Smith books and you knew there would be something in the pipeline, he still managed to achieve the surprise element and catch you out; leaving you with that thought I didn't see that coming.

I can't really remember how many of his books I have read now, it is certainly quite a few, but as he started to publish his novels in 1964 with 'When the Lion Feeds", the first of his books that I read , then I hope you can understand why my memory has failed me a little some forty odd years later as to which specific ones I read and when.

That is possibly an indication as to why I hold "Eagle in the Sky" in such high esteem, published in 1974, it was the year I left school and as such I had a clear marker as to when I first got my hands on a copy of this amazing book. But even taking that into account, it was unforgettable then and still remains to this day my favourite book of all time.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

The First Flying Lesson of a Born Pilot

'What do you know about flying?' he asked the boy as they passed through the cool gloom of the hangar where gaudily coloured aircraft stood in long rows, and out again through the wide doors into the bright mild winter sunshine.

'Nothing, sir.' The admission was refreshing, and Barney felt his mood sweeten.

'But you want to learn?'

'Oh yes sir.' The reply was emphatic and Barney glanced back at him.

The Eagle in the Sky - by Wilbur Smith

I don't think I have ever read a bad Wilbur Smith book, but this one was without doubt the best.

Eagle in the Sky
Eagle in the Sky

If you are looking for a best seller by an accomplished proven writer, then look no further. Wilbur Smith has stood the test of time and still publishes books to this day. His latest offering was in 2011.


Born to Fly, Like An Eagle in the Sky - Wilbur Smith Novel

Eagle in the Sky
Eagle in the Sky

Jersey's Secret Assassin

Jersey's Secret Assassin
Jersey's Secret Assassin

A fast moving thriller and debut novel from Eddie Kirkup - now sadly deceased.


David Morgan is the heir to a South African business empire and a highly gifted pilot. He learns to fly at the age of 14 and flying is destined to be his future. Choosing the South African Air Force over academia and business school he leaves full time education to follow his flying ambitions. He impresses his commanding office with his flying ability but then disappoints him when he decides to leave the air force to try to establish where his future lies.

Travelling widely through Europe he finds a beautiful Israeli girl who is both intelligent and articulate. But she rebuffs David's advances and they bitterly go their separate ways. After a little while David is drawn to Israel to seek out Debra to see if he can change her mind about him. He meets her father, a senior staff officer and pilot in the Israeli Defence Forces, who recognizes his ability as a pilot and offers him a commission in the IDF after which he gains Israeli citizenship and enters into Israel's struggle for survival.

He and Debra make up and form a relationship with plans to live together. Tragedy strikes in the form of a terrorist attack and Debra is blinded, once more their relationship falls apart and David returns to his love of flying and immerses himself in the struggle against Israel's enemies. He gets tangled up in a dogfight with Syrian fighter jets and is forced to ditch his aircraft in a crash landing. The plane catches fire and he is badly burned.

Blamed for bringing Israel to the brink of war he becomes the subject of a court martial and is forced to leave the IDF. Desperate and now an outcast he seeks out Debra. They marry and return to South Africa, she is blind and he is badly disfigured as a result of his burns. It seems they have become the perfect match. Now he offers his family estate up as a nature reserve to protect the wild animals that roam there, but poachers have different plans. Debra gets caught up in the violence and loses her baby when she is attacked.

The only positive affect to come from the attack is that she starts to sense some light and an ophthalmic surgeon manages to operate and restore her sight. But now she can see David and his terrible dis-figuration, something she simply does not know how to deal with.

In a panic she rejects him and this leaves David feeling suicidal. So he takes to the air with a plan to end it all. He flies off into the sky, his special refuge and a place where he feels he can reach a conclusion, even if that conclusion is possibly the end of his life.

This is the novel in a nutshell, it would be impossible to fill in the detail as eloquently as Wilbur Smith and to try and do so would surely disappoint. Read the book however and I am pretty sure you will not be disappointed and of course you need to find out how it all ended.

If you like military books and stories about soldiers or the armed forces in general. Then you can use this link to read about Cages of Smoke, another miltary adventure.

Another personal favourite is Jersey's Secret Assassin, a fast moving suspense thriller that starts in Jersey and ends in Cyprus.

Are you a Wilbur Smith Fan? - Tell us your Favourite Wilbur Smith Book

If you prefer one of Wilbur Smith's other novels as your favourite let us know in the comments.

Is 'Eagle in the Sky' Wilbur Smith's Best Novel?

Favorite Wilbur Smith Books - Vote for the Best Wilbur Smith Book

I have been reading Wilbur Smith's books since I was a young man and I know which my favorite is. But now I would like to know what everyone else thinks about Wilbur Smith so here is your chance to vote for your favorite book by this long standing author of best books.

The Eye of the Tiger
The Eye of the Tiger

Published in 1975 this was the second of Wilbur Smith's novels that I read as a teenager that had just left school.


The Zanzibar Affair - An African Romance & Suspense Story

If you have enjoyed Wilbur Smith's novels then there is a very good chance you will enjoy this novel from Samantha Ford. She lives and works in Africa and like Wilbur she has drawn on Africa for her inspiration.

The Zanzibar Affair: A Novel Out of Africa
The Zanzibar Affair: A Novel Out of Africa

A romantic suspense story of star crossed love at first sight in safari Africa.


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